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Catalyst
Annual National Legal Essay Competition
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Mannthan
Justice for Children - A Policy Network
Results: 4th Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition 2015
5th Independent Thought Legal Essay Competition, 2016
Independent Thought Fellowship Programme
Annual National Legal Essay Competition

Idea behind Competition

iThought firmly believes that social empowerment cannot take place unless one is legally empowered. Students from legal institutions have an ownership to take up legal and development roles in society that are being filled by bureaucrats and persons who are not legally sound. Lawyers and jurists are disarmingly left out of the law making process. It is essential to look at an issue from both the social and legal context together and not from merely one context in isolation. There needs to be a socio legal amalgamation and rights based approach to current social issues. Students of law need to be aware of not just the Indian legal system, our Constitution, the laws and acts but also the International Conventions and Treaties. It is the need of the hour that future lawyers must be well versed with the global situations.

Focus in legal institutions must not be purely academic but must be a blend of both practical and theoretical learning. A lawyer who is socially conscious will be better equipped to give back to society. Through the Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition, iThought seeks to break in to the restrictions of academia and provide impetus for young minds to think critically - what is the law, what are the loopholes and shortcomings, what needs urgent amendments, what is the rationale behind the laws, is it justified?

iThought therefore intends to present a platform for young and promising minds to participate in the nation-building process. The annual essay competition will facilitate in accumulating view-points on a complex and contemporary issue.

The topic for the 1st Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition 2012 was 'Protection of Children from Sexual Offences – Law and its effectiveness'. iThought attempted to ignite the socio-legal mind to examine the efficacy and efficiency of the existing legal regime relating to child abuse and also to highlight the need of a new legal regime, if any, to ensure a status of child in a legal framework in addition to parental care at home. We tapped around 40 Law Colleges which included National Law Schools, Private Law Schools, and Department of Law of different Universities across the country. Top fifteen best thoughts are in the process of getting published and the top three winners additionally won cash prizes.

The topic for the 2nd Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition 2013 is 'The Age of Criminal Responsibility'. This topic is extremely thought provoking and will cause writers to think beyond their curriculum and come up with themes that will transgress the mere boundaries of legal thought. Factors such as - Who is a child; Constitution, Equality and Liberty; understanding and highlighting the Legal/ statutory, psychological/scientific, social/cultural, political/civil, gender aspects, making a global comparison and recommendations or need for reform of the legislative framework will have to be considered and reflected in the essay.


1st ITNLEC

The History of the 1st Independent Thought National Legal Essay 2012

The topic provided for last year’s competition was “Protection of Children from Sexual Offences - Law and its effectiveness.” The topic was chosen as incidents in the last couple of years had highlighted the malaise of child sexual abuse within Indian society. This increase in Child Sexual Abuse led to the introduction of a new Act, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.

Child abuse is a phenomenon occurring throughout the world where the dignity of the child as an individual and a member of society, is undermined. Traditionally, childcare and protection is understood under the domain of families and communities. The Law is but a tool to ensure social restructuring and for building a civilized society; hence it must address the issue of child abuse in all earnest and sincerity. The effects of child abuse will rob the effect of development and destroy the progress of our society. Legal instruments are required to address the issues and challenges of child abuse, by considering the child as a subject matter of right and not a matter of paternal care.

In this background, iThought attempted to ignite the socio-legal minds of current students of the law, in examining the efficacy and efficiency of the exiting legal machinery relating to child abuse and also to highlight the need of a new legal regime, if any, to ensure a status of child in a legal framework in addition to parental care at home. The Essay Competition was widely publicized in all the National Law Schools, Private Law Schools, and Department of Law of different Universities across the country; posters were also put up on various websites to ensure that all young minds had a platform for providing their thoughts on the subject.

Last year for our 1st Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition 2012, we tapped around 40 Law Colleges across the country and received over 80 entries from 18 states.The young mind with the best thought was from ILS Law College, Ms. Aaastha Dua. The second best thought was co-authored by two students from Symbiosis Law School Pune, students Saswati Soumya Sahu and Sonakshi Arora. The third best thought was submitted by Sagar Mathur of the College of Legal Studies, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun.


2nd ITNLEC

The 2nd Independent Thought National Legal Essay Competition 2013

This year we aim to increase the number of students participating in the essay competition as we believe that the topic of “Age of Criminal Responsibility” is one that bears extreme social relevance in light of the current happenings in the NCR region and all over the country. The ‘Nirbhaya Case’ has generated strong discussion for revisiting and broadening the age range for fixing criminal responsibility for serious criminal offences by Juveniles. Recent debates and discussions amongst public and legal forums have suggested lowering the age of Juveniles in case of serious offences, and having these Juvenile offenders tried in the criminal courts under normal criminal justice system and not under the Juvenile Justice Act. The larger question remains as to whether such step would really act as a deterrent or have serious ramifications on crime prevention. 

We are confronted by the question of having a threshold age limit with which to fix criminal culpability. Our basic premise of culpability and its relation to age stands on qualitative moral judgment. The question of threshold age determination for criminal culpability is difficult as demonstrated though lot of cases worldwide. 

The case of Juvenile Age revision requires careful consideration and thinking. It’s a valid concern that many of the Juvenile offenders are difficult to reform even with provision of best of the services. A provision to deter these children from making bigger offences needs to be carefully examined. Within the ambit of this essay competition, iThought aims to ignite the nation’s developing socio-legal minds into examining the efficacy and efficiency of the current laws on the Age of Criminal Responsibility and also highlight the need, if any, for a new legal regime to combat the issue. 

The essay while focusing on the Topic should logically consider both sides of the argument but take a clear stance; critically evaluate and analyse the law and may touch upon the following issues such as:
 Who is a child
 Constitution, Equality and Liberty
 Legal/ statutory, psychological/scientific, social/cultural, political/civil, gender aspects
 Global comparison 
 Need for reform of the legislative framework